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There has been an increase in the number of cases of whooping cough in London, including in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea. Here’s what you need to know:

What are the symptoms of whooping cough?

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection which affects the airways and lungs. It often starts with cold symptoms but can soon develop into night-time coughing fits, possibly followed by difficulty in breathing, a characteristic ‘whoop’ noise or vomiting.

Infants can have difficulty breathing after coughing and sometimes turn a blue colour. You can catch whooping cough at any age but it is particularly dangerous for babies under 6 months of age.

Whooping cough is generally less severe in older children and adults. However, it can cause a vigorous and often prolonged cough, which can be unpleasant in that it can disturb nights and lead to chest wall soreness.

Who should be vaccinated for whooping cough?

All pregnant women are advised to have the whooping cough vaccine at 16-32 weeks of pregnancy (in each of their pregnancies), as it provides protection to their baby at birth.

The whooping cough vaccine is given as part of the UK vaccination schedule (which we follow) at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks and 3 years 4months. Making sure your child has had all of these vaccinations helps to protect them from more severe illness. In those unvaccinated between 1-10 years old, a two-dose vaccine course is recommended.

Over 10 years old, whooping cough vaccination is not routinely advised, unless you are a contact of someone being treated for whooping cough and haven’t had recent immunisation.

People with immunity (from vaccination or having the whooping cough illness) may experience shorter and milder symptoms, but do not have lifelong protection.

If your child is not fully up to date with their vaccinations at the moment, or you are pregnant and due the vaccination, do please make an appointment with us as soon as possible.

What should I do if I think I have whooping cough or a member of my family does?

If you think you may have whooping cough, please get in touch with one of our doctors, who may recommend you take a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics will help to prevent the infection spreading to others but unfortunately, they do not necessarily shorten the duration of coughing.

References:

https://bnf.nice.org.uk/treatment-summaries/pertussis-vaccine/

Whooping cough | Health topics A to Z | CKS | NICE

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